Grain Growers of Canada disheartened by lacklustre commitments to Canadian farmers at Ottawa meeting

Business risk management programs are essential to Canadian farmers, yet yesterday’s meeting outcomes will provide no effective support for Canadian farmers who face challenges beyond their control.

(Ottawa — December 18, 2019) The Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) members are disappointed and frustrated by the outcome of the federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers’ meeting yesterday in Ottawa.

“Despite all of these pressing challenges facing farmers across the country, the federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers were unwilling to make any changes to the AgriStability program,” says GCC Chair Jeff Nielsen. “This is when farmers need it most and our representatives are providing us with zero support.”

This was the second time this year that Ministers of Agriculture met to discuss the much-needed improvements to the business risk management suite, something that all Canadians farmers rely on. Yet once again, no meaningful changes have been put in place, leaving all Canadian farmers reeling and discouraged.

The disappointing conversation in Ottawa yesterday is a particularly disheartening way to end a year that was already extremely difficult for Canadian farmers. Farmers continue to experience access challenges in key international markets: Canadian canola and soybean are rejected by China, Saudi Arabia is refusing Canadian barley and India has increased tariffs on pulses. Additionally, farmers are feeling the adverse effects of the China/USA trade war. Simply, global markets are no longer reliable; the trade environment is increasingly unpredictable as protectionism rises globally. Additionally, another year of unprecedented rainfall, hail and snow has left acres of product that cannot be harvested. As a result, farm debt is accelerating at a frighteningly unprecedented rate and net farm incomes are projected to fall further than the 45 per cent decrease in 2018.

At this rate, Canadian farmers can’t help but feel bleak about the future, as evidenced by mental health help lines across the country reporting an 80 per cent increase in call volumes compared to previous years.

As it stands, the business risk management suite is incapable of meeting the majority of Canadian farmers’ needs. Changes made to AgriStability in 2013 have resulted in a program that is unresponsive and inadequate. Farmers are dealing with challenges — the majority of which are well beyond their control — in isolation.

“There is a crisis facing farmers across the country. Our representatives should be trying much harder to fix this crisis and support Canadians whose livelihood is at stake,” says Nielsen.

GGC will not walk away and accept this unsatisfactory outcome. “GGC members will be calling on Minister Bibeau to consider other options to provide farmers with immediate support,” says Nielsen. “The reality is that Canadian farmers need support from the government when adversely impacted by trade, political and environmental forces beyond our control. The reality is that currently; we are not getting any essential support.”

Grain Growers of Canada provides a strong national voice for over 65,000 active and successful grain, oilseed and pulse producers through its 16 provincial, regional and national grower groups. Our mission and mandate are to pursue a policy environment that maximizes global competitiveness and to influence federal policy on behalf of independent Canadian grain farmers and their associations.

Media Contact:
Lindsey Ehman – Manager, Member and Partner Engagement
(o): 613-233-9954 ext. 202
(c): 613-222-2726